The Big 12 suffered an unusually high number of quarterback graduations after last season. Reigning Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is of course gone. But so too are Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, TCU’s Kenny Hill, Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek, to graduation, and Baylor’s Zach Smith, to a transfer.
All told, five of the Big 12’s top six passers from 2017 are no longer in the league. The sixth is West Virginia’s Will Grier, who ranked third in the conference with 317.3 yards per game in 11 games last season. The next-highest ranked returning passer is Texas’s Sam Ehlinger, who averaged 212.8 yards in nine games.
So while it seems a shoe-in that Grier will be the 2018 Preseason First Team All-Big 12 quarterback, West Virginia has its eyes much higher than that. Grier has garnered early mention as the consensus First Team All-American signal caller, but WVU wants to make him the school’s first Heisman winner, or at least get him in the conversation.
The school will launch a full-on campaign on July 7, but until then the Mountaineers have produced this hype video.
Grier enters 2018 as the nation’s second-leading returning passer, trailing only Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen, while pairing a 34-to-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio on a stellar 9.0 yards per attempt to go with his 317 yards per game. Paired with the nation’s leading returning touchdown maker in David Sills V (60 grabs for 980 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017), West Virginia enters 2018 as a legitimate Big 12 and College Football Playoff contender.
And if Grier is to remain in the Heisman conversation, West Virginia is going to have to remain in the championship hunt.
The hits just keep on coming for Penn State. Just days after a pair of Penn State players announced their retirement from football, defensive end Torrence Brown has announced his retirement from the game just before the start of the college football season.
“Due to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end,” Brown said in a statement shared on his Twitter account recently. “It has been tough coming to terms with this news but I know that everything happens for a reason and God will continue to guide me.”
Brown missed the majority of the 2017 season due to a knee injury suffered early in the year. He had hoped to return to the field this fall, but that clearly did not come to be for Brown as he battled back from injury.
Last week, Ryan Buchholz and Jordan Miner announced their retirements from the game. Prior to that, 2018 signee Nana Asiedu announced his retirement due to a heart condition. Quarterback Jake Zembiec also has retired due to a shoulder injury.
“We’re kind of having a strange year, to be honest with you,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said recently in response to some of the previously announced retirements, according to PennLive. “It’s challenging for them, it’s challenging for their parents, it’s challenging for us as a staff, in terms of managing a roster and depth, and those types of things. Most importantly, it’s difficult (because) this is their dream. This is their ultimate dream.”
Brown said he intends to follow through with the winter semester to earn his degree.
UCLA’s defense was dealt a bad card just before the start of the 2018 college football season. Bruins head coach Chip Kelly announced to reporters that linebacker Josh Woods will miss the entire season due to a knee injury from Thursday’s practice.
“It’s a big blow,” Kelly said, according to a Los Angeles Daily News report. “Just a great young man, everything you want in a football player. So it’s hard for us to try to replace because we don’t have that much depth at that position. But right now our thoughts are with Josh.”
Woods was expected to be a starter for the UCLA defense this season. Last season, he appeared in seven games and recorded 30 tackles, including 23 solo tackles. His 2017 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury.
It remains to be determined if Woods will get the chance to play for UCLA again. The senior has already earned his degree but does have the option of using a redshirt for the 2018 season and continuing to play again in 2019.
Tennessee has spent the whole of summer camp without its most highly-touted true freshman, but that could change in the not-too-distant future.
While JJ Peterson signed with the Vols this recruiting cycle, he has yet to enroll in classes at UT as he still has some academic requirements to clear. After Saturday’s scrimmage, Jeremy Pruitt seemed confident that the linebacker will join the team on the field sooner rather than later.
“He’s finishing up a class, and when he gets the class finished up, he’ll be here,” the head coach said by the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Would we have liked it… been last week? Absolutely. But that’s part of it. You’ve got to do it, and he’s working hard to do that.”
According to the News Sentinel, UT starts its fall semester this coming Wednesday.
A four-star member of the Volunteers’ 2018 recruiting class, Peterson was rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 48 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. The 6-3, 231-pound signee was the highest-rated prospect in Pruitt’s first class with the Vols, one that was 22nd nationally and eighth in the SEC.
Tennessee kicks off the 2018 season Sept. 1 against West Virginia in Charlotte.
Nearly five months after landing in Fort Collins, K.J. Carta-Samuels has, as expected, been handed the keys to Colorado State’s offense.
On the depth chart released ahead of CSU’s opener against Hawaii Aug. 25, Carta-Samuels was listed as the Rams’ starting quarterback. Carta-Samuels’ backups are listed as Justice McCoy OR Collin Hill.
Hill suffered a torn ACL in mid-March playing a game of pickup basketball, but has been ahead of schedule in his rehab.
In early December of last year, Carta-Samuels announced that he would be leaving Chris Petersen‘s Washington football program. In January, it was reported that Carta-Samuels would transfer to UCLA, although he ended up at Colorado State two months later as a graduate transfer.
A four-star member of UW’s 2014 recruiting class, Carta-Samuels was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of California. Budda Baker, a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, was the only signee in the Huskies’ class that year rated higher than Carta-Samuels.
Carta-Samuels played in 25 games over the past three seasons. He ended the Huskies portion of his collegiate playing career with 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in completing 27-of-47 passes.